Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute, Manandavadi Road, Srirampura, Mysore-570008 India
Sericulture has played a very important role in the socio-economic empowerment of rural and semi-urban population. The eco-friendly nature of the industry, in addition to its employment generation potential, low investments and frequent returns, has rendered the industry as one of the most suitable land based economic activity, particularly in the context of global movement against environmental degradation and global warming. The present thrust in increasing silk production to meet the growing domestic and international demand however, cannot rely upon horizontal expansion. In light of the competition to mulberry from other food and commercial crops, it has become imperative to utilize marginal, problematic soils for mulberry cultivation. Although soil amendment and management is one of the feasible means, genetic improvement of crops towards tolerance to stress is more effective, less costly, non-polluting and longer lasting. The present study was conducted with six mulberry genotypes selected from a segregating population of 1152 hybrids on the basis of their relative performance in two diverse environments- (i) Optimum growing conditions, wherein the recommended inputs were provided and (ii) Stress conditions, wherein all inputs including irrigation were withdrawn. The six genotypes were further subjected evaluation under different stress conditions like, soil moisture stress, alkalinity and salinity along with control genotypes K-2 and V-1 maintained at optimal conditions. Significant variability was recorded among the genotypes in respect of Leaf yield response index [LYRI], Stress resistance index [SRI] and Varietal score [VS]. The results indicated a high degree of plasticity in G-6, which is now christened as RC-2 [Resource Constraint-2], that would assure sustained leaf production in severe water stress, alkaline and saline conditions. The genotype is recommended for cultivation by the marginal and small farmers for economic utilization of the problematic soils.